Games get sequels all the time these days. It seems like more and more, games are written not with the idea of producing a quality game, but rather with the start of a franchise in mind. A lot of this is based on the profitability of the sports franchise games that have annual releases. Sometimes these games have little more than new team rosters, while a few titles like EA
franchise are constantly innovating. NHL 11
is no exception, and to call it anything less than a home run wouldn’t do the game justice.
To begin with, it starts with what the game provided last year, which if you look back at my NHL 2010 review, you’ll see that it was the best console hockey game ever made to that point. While there’s no where go up from an A grade, there were plenty of places where changes to the game could have brought it down. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and the changes and additions only added to the depth and strength of the game.
One of the worst kept secrets of the summer was that EA was negotiating with the Canadian Hockey League for licensing of their team and player likenesses for inclusions in this years edition of the game. It was something I called for as one of the few holes in last years game, but it wasn’t enough of a knock to reduce the grade. Plus, I simply figured the CHL wouldn’t be willing to license their logos as a secondary piece of the game.
The addition of these teams and logos really adds to the feel of the game. The Be A Pro mode makes heavy use of the CHL as a developmental step along the ladder for your user-created player. As I said, it’s a realistic touch that was missing from last years game and allows you to really spend time with your character, developing your style of play, adding to your stats and getting better at the game before you step into the NHL.
On little fun thing that goes along with the CHL addition is a midget league that allows that allows you to start your player off as a teen learning the game. It gives a feeling of completing the arch of your player from his early travel hockey experiences to the completion of his road to the NHL. I wouldn’t have thought that it would work out as well as it does, as it could have been really cheesy.
While the addition of the CHL adds a lot to the game in terms of feel and depth, it’s not really new in terms of functionality. The key piece of new functionality off the ice comes from the new Hockey Ultimate Team mode. It seems a lot of games lately have been adding a collectible card game component in order to find an interesting way of adding depth without making fundamental changes to the primary game modes. It makes even more sense in sports game, because a lot of people who play sports games have also collected sports cards.
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